Words and photos by Michael Chandler
After ten years, and countless races from such series as the American Le Mans Series, Grand Am Rolex, Ferrari Challenge and NASCAR, the final chapter of the racing history at Miller Motorsports Park was written by the locals. The last official race on the track was the final race in the 2015 NASA Utah season: the Tresduro. What was a season ending endurance race has now become a winner takes all, three session day, with races held on three different configurations of the track. On this day, the drivers would race on the Outer Loop, the East Track, and for the first time in years the Full Track.
The fields were huge. For the first time that I can remember, the all HPDE spots sold out. The amount of cars in the HPDE 1, 2, and 3 groups were staggering. And the TT groups were equally huge. So large that they had to split the group up for the second timed session. TTC, D and E would run with the HPDE 4, and the rest of the TT group would be out there afterward.
TTE had four competitors, all in Mazdas. Tyler Nisonger, in the On Point Supplements Miata, ran away with the class win. His margin of victory was 23 seconds! The gap between Hal Mortimer (#77 Mortimer Family FB RX-7) in second place, and Kelly Fisher (#19 Pro Tint/PT Auto Sales Miata) was only 10 seconds. A dominating win for Tyler.
TTC was occupied by one man. One lone competitor in a BMW. His name: Tom Rogers. His car: an E30 BMW 325i. His trunk was black, but the small spoiler on the decklid was red. And he won gold.
TTB was the deepest TT group. Dave Wann in his S2000 battled Toby Crawford and his supercharged BRZ all day. Toby’s added boost kept Dave within his sight, but Dave kept his better Miata just out of Toby’s grasp. Dave walked away with another win on the season, and closed the book on a championship winning season.
TT3 was down a competitor, since Jonathon Tapia did not return this season after his devastating wreck, but was still stacked with talented drivers. With a twelve second margin of victory, James Pasquier took home a gold medal to hang on the wing of his 993 911.
The lone TT2 competitor was Robert Poirier, in the only V8 powered car on the time sheets: the Black Diamond Development Mustang.
Shawn Murphy, fresh from Lyfe Motorsport’s trip to World Time Attack in Sydney, Australia, came out swinging at Greg Valdez. They traded blows in their Subarus (metaphorically, I’ll go ahead and say that Shawn would probably wreck Greg if they went full Days of Thunder), but a blown coupler put Shawn at a disadvantage for the third session. Not being able to run at full boost allowed Greg to eek out a win.
Formula series champion Bruno Carniero was not driving at the Tresduro. He was at the track, but he was getting ready to go to China and compete in a Formula 4 race. He finished on the podium if you’re curious. In the formula races at the Tresduro, it was a one man show: Troy Duffin took home the final Formula class win awarded at Miller Motorsports Park.
John LaBrie battled Steve Burns all day in Super Formula. John managed to hold off Steve in each of the three races to end the day atop the podium.
There was one Race Group. For the final event, the powers that be combined the Thunder and Lightning groups into one, massive and competitive herd of cars, 38 deep.
GTS2 was a battle of Porsches. Heller and Miller’s Boxster duked it out with Chris Haunold’s 911, and the first generation Boxster took down the 911. This may be a first for the oft slighted chassis, but hopefully not the last.
GTS 3, 4 and 5 were all (unfortunately) occupied by one driver each. GTS 3 saw Carol Nichols drive her Cayman to the land of golden bottle openers disguised as medals. Byron Smith took his BMW to the promised land in GTS 4, and Gerry Shear collected a win for the Air Power Racing GTS 5 class 911.
GTSU was full of drama. In the second race, on the East Course, David Lockwood in the #42 Porsche 911 Cup Car collided with the Makes and Models R8 LMS in the first turn of the first lap of the race. This contact ended both of their days. In the final race on the Full Track, McKay Snow made contact with George Smith and guaranteed that the DXDT Racing R8 LMS Ultra would take home the victory.
Ben Lamberson was the lone PTE driver. Unfortunately he had no slicks, so he was on some 200 tread wear summer tires that somehow lasted all day! Unfair advantage? Perhaps…
Spec Miata was a five way battle. After the dust settled, Allan Anderson emerged holding the gold medal.
Spec Z was, yet again, another massive field. There were ten cars in this one field alone! Arthur Golebiowski was battling all day. Arthur managed to dispatch his competitors, earning a hard fought victory. On another note, look at Tom Kaminski’s door! That’s the most perfectly placed tire mark I’ve ever seen.
Michael Eiffling battled Big Bob Evans in ST1, and managed to top Bob for the top podium spot. Despite this victory, Bob towered over Michael. Short of making Bob stand in a hole, he will tower over everyone.
Yet another ST2 race saw Mike Mielke as the lone competitor. And yet again, I’m not complaining about seeing his truck on track mixing it up. There needs to be another ST2 truck.
ST3 was the second deepest field with 8 cars. Travis Tidball cracked his differential housing wide open, and retired early. Travis Williams was out in the old, reliable #22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang FR500S, but old and reliable wasn’t enough to win. No, the win would belong to the Us Against One/Spherion E36 M3. Todd Ainsworth’s choice to jump into a BMW has proven to be a fortuitous one, and sharing seat time with Alex Whetman has payed dividends as well.
George Smith’s Corvette has been around for a while. He’s competed in it from the old MPRA days, all the way through this past event. And despite having contact with McKay Snow, George managed to take home the final Super Unlimited win awarded at Miller Motorsports Park. It was fitting that one of the old guard took home the last victory.
And there it is, the final race at Miller Motorsports Park. I know you may have been expecting some long love letter to Miller, with some race highlights sprinkled in. A love letter will be coming later, but this post was about the last race day at our home track as we know it. Ladies and gentlemen, it has been an honor to bring you these write ups and galleries. I’m glad that you’ve liked them as much as you have, and I look forward to bringing you more from Utah Motorsports Campus in the coming years.
Until then, this has Michael Chandler from Miller Motorsports Park.